By Kait Joyner // Dec. 29, 2019
False snow lined the cracks of the white tile floor, a superficial imposter that could not even fool a child. The spheres were identical, unlike snowflakes, and there were no clouds from which they could have floated. These were unfriendly snowdrifts that no child could possibly learn to play in, for the water pooled around them was not a result of melting. Unlike winter frost, this wilderness of white was unsafe to walk on. Rather than a shovel, it required a broom, a dustpan, and rags. Likewise, I required an apology. My rosy, adolescent cheeks carried my tears to the floor as my mother collected the shards. Show and tell during bedtime preparations had introduced a nightmare which would accompany me to bed. Around the corner, my brother clung to the wall, eyes cast down as he witnessed the aftermath of the harsh winter he had caused. I glared at him, a relentless sun that took prey on those without protection.
Hot summer monsoons fell from my face onto the fallacious snow, a monumental collision to which no history book could do justice. The harsh winter was a concoction of what no one wanted and what was hard to erase. As he watched through his fingers, I could not discern whether my brother’s hands were meant to conceal laughter or fright. After all, our dinner table prayers had become nothing more than amusing rituals of redundancy, habits of our household. Virgin Mary lay amidst the deadly winter, her arms cracked. How would she be able to hold her son? With no snow globe to protect the mother and child, God’s only son would freeze and crack like an icicle. I did not want to hear any more prayers. I knew God would not answer them.
My mother did not know that by sweeping up Mary instead of repairing her, my heaven was dismantled, and I no longer knew where I was destined to be sent. My snow globe was not the only thing that had broken. However, heaven had always had such a fate in my mind. My heaven was built only to fall, like Rome, and fall it did. People cannot be repaired with hot glue, even if they are the son of God. Their blood would seethe and their flesh would carry scars; that is if they healed at all. Many wounds are opened perpetually, a cycle of hurt and the futile effort to mend. At five years old, I wondered if there were bandaids for gods and goddesses. I wondered if God was cruel to humans out of anger towards our weakness, out of anger that he could not prevent it, out of anger that he could not keep his only son alive. Baby Jesus could not survive the cold that accompanied an earthly presence. He had fallen from holiness, and there is no rising when one cannot yet walk.
The glass took hours to clean up, and even then, I did not want to walk on that floor. The fragments felt immortal, haunting memories of the hurt that could have inflicted my body. After all, the transparent pieces could not melt or condense into a less threatening form. In a sort of self-assured compromise of reason, I would pull layer upon layer of socks over my feet, attempting to guard them against any remnants of glass they might find. My perpetual practice of precarious steps across that wasteland taught me how to walk in heels, as well as how to be afraid. Needless to say, I learned well.
It took me years to realize that the floor had always been harsh and that my tears had hit that floor many times before the infamous winter. At church, I only exchanged words of passing motion, words that evaded meaning and forgot heaven or hell. Though I had been baptized as a baby, God had not claimed me. I did not contain the sacred scripture, and thus, many people ceased to read me. At home, the prayers at the dinner table ceased almost seamlessly, and no one quite knew why. My mother looked at me as if I were more fragile than the snow globe. She tried to fix me with hot glue, but all it did was burn. In subtle, well-meaning ways, she tried to mend me, as if I, like the snow globe, was a broken vessel. But deep down, I knew that I was not kin to these shattered spheres of life, for though I was fractured, I still managed to contain something. Though I did not hold the word of God, for the people of God, I held within me the knowledge that the more God laughs down on us, the more we laugh back up at him. We both laugh out of hurt but do nothing to further each other’s healing, do nothing to stop the perpetual cycle. After all, God put us far enough below him that we could not reach high enough to dismantle him, and in turn ensured that we could not reach up to heal him, either. Every time I pass a church, I hold my breath, not in vain, but out of fear for a God who lives alone in the sky. With all the prayers he gets, a moment of silence might equate to a moment of healing. We are not strangers as much as we are convenient companions of pain, mutual guardians of each other’s weaknesses. Though the scars of our suffering remain, they are protected from exploitation and roped off like evidence of battle. Every thunderstorm I sleep soundly, knowing that even a God in the sky cannot feel entirely whole — sometimes I cry with him. But I leave my eyes open and hands apart when those around me pray.